Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student, Michael Egan, makes this connection in Dhaka, Bangladesh.  This current event was reported in Environmental Geochemistry And Health in 2014, under the title, Investigation of severe water problem in urban areas of a developing country: the case of Dhaka, Bangladesh, by Mst. Shamsun Nahar. This study is supported in an article by independent source, The Guardian, explaining the declines availability of Dhaka’s safe drinking water.

This article discusses the evaluation of water supply geochemistry in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The study was done in order to obtain detailed trace level water quality data. This is a fundamental step in any engineering process; figuring out what the problem is. Information such as major ions, dissolved oxygen levels, and toxic trace metals within the groundwater was needed in order to define the problem. This process is one of the first steps taken before any clean-up or in-field work should be done. It is vital to the success of any project, especially a WRE one given the many moving parts within an ecosystem. With urban area development being a major recent factor throughout the world, water resource engineering will become an increasingly difficult field for engineers. This is why it is important news that a developing country such as Bangladesh would be proactive regarding the investigation of the safety of their drinking water. While the main focus of this article was not to provide solutions to the problem, it would have tied the article together to at least mention how the recently-defined problem is often solved.

Figure 1: Ground water depth in Dhaka from 1996-2008

Figure 1: Ground water depth in Dhaka from 1996-2008

When it comes to drinking water, large amounts of money will always be involved. Being such an essential resource, drinking water in any area affects the economy and societal issues within a region, especially one of large population such as Dhaka. Shortage of safe drinking water for the city of 15 million will inevitably cause deaths and tragedy. It will cost a lot of money to remove any harmful contaminants from the drinking water and provide sustainable clean drinking water developments. An article by Journal of Scientific Research focused on the surface water pollution around a Dhaka export processing zone and its impacts on surrounding aquatic environment. Five water samples were taken varying in distance from the stationary effluent outlet. Parameters including color, pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, and biochemical oxygen demand, were measured .Results indicated the surrounding aquatic environment is contaminated by many pollutants released by the processing zone causing major concern for the health of many species within that ecosystem. Testing Dhaka’s drinking water shed light on contaminants within the water as well as some fundamental water properties that affect the environment. This knowledge will help engineers avoid further contamination and lead them down a path of restoration of a healthier environment and a healthier people.

References:

Islam, M. S., A. Sultana, M. S. Sultana, M. Shammi, and M. K. Uddin. “Surface Water Pollution around Dhaka Export Processing Zone and Its Impacts on Surrounding Aquatic Environment.” Journal of Scientific Research 8.3 (2016): 413. Web. 7 Feb. 2017.

Nahar, Mst. Shamsun, Jing Zhang, Akira Ueda, and Fujishiro Yoshihisa. “Investigation of Severe Water Problem in Urban Areas of a Developing Country: The Case of Dhaka, Bangladesh.” Environmental Geochemistry and Health 36.6 (2014): 1079-094. Web.

“Safe Drinking Water Disappearing Fast in Bangladesh.” Guardian Development Network. Guardian News and Media, 07 May 2013. Web. 08 Feb. 2017.

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